Remme: We’ve Made Numerous Cyber Attacks Non-Effective
Co-founder and CEO in Ukrainian startup Remme, Alex Momot has present the future without passwords. This project managed to collect more than $18 million (about 19,000 ETH) just in few days. The story of its success has inspired thousands of people around the world to build their own ICO-based startups. We have recently talked to Alexander Momot about the features of the product and the further plans for the company development.
Your project has become one of the most successful in Ukraine. You have given the world a life without the need to remember their passwords. What is the story of your success? Where did it all begin?
It all started with the fact that I forgot the password of my Ethereum wallet. There were 400 ETH. The currency rate was much lower than today, but still, it was tens of thousands of dollars. I tried to call my password to mind for a while. But one day I thought about the changing of the password system from now on. When this idea had fully formed, the team of enthusiasts started to develop several ways to do this. I had found the information about SSL / TLS, but decided to apply its principle in a different way. This technology was not new, and it could be easily integrated into the existing systems. But instead of using the one big server we integrated the node management and provided our users with the option to login with a single click without entering the password. In case of two-factor authentication system requires two clicks. The login security is 75-90% higher than usual. We’ve made the numerous cyber attacks non-effective.
It sounds like magic. The user clicks on a button, and the program recognizes him. How does it work?
The process can be compared with the airport registration. You show your passport, get checked in the official database of the wanted persons. If you don’t have a record there, you’re good to go. We have almost the same pattern: you send your a certificate to the server, it checks the activity by the number. If everything is ok, you get a confirmation to your smartphone.
Is it an exclusion method?
No, absolutely not. Imagine that we need something, which has the credibility of one hundred percent for everyone. For now, it’s blockchain. It is highly trusted, because if the consensus is right, then nobody can hack it. Hacking process needs fantastic money, very limited amount of people can afford it. It’s a matter of economic factors. When you generate certificate on any site, no one will doubt its authenticity. It’s the same as a passport: you show it, and no one can doubt it. But it’s a passport which is impossible to forge.
What is the main advantage of no-password login?
We simplify everyday life for everyone, while maintaining a high-level security. Previously, the higher security meant the higher level of complexity for the user’s login. For example, physical encryption devices needed to be connected via USB. There were also complex long passwords or protection through third-party applications. In our case, there is just one big green OK button, which is impossible to miss. And exactly the same button is placed on your smartphone. The simplicity guarantees no mistakes, that’s a rule.
It just cannot be that easy. What are the disadvantages of this system?
It needs to be integrated. It’s not even a disadvantage, actually. Still there is a difficulty with the blockchain knowledge among people. It’s our challenge. We have to provide people with rules of the system and motivate to follow them.
You have a contract with Ukrinmash. What other state institutions have implemented your technology?
There are several pilot projects on the stage of development, but we have not cooperated with anyone else in Ukraine yet. Developing such kind of a project is hard in Ukraine. We need to participate in tenders, even if we want to provide the product for free. We are focused on the USA, Western Europe, and South-East Asia markets. The main starting points of cyber attacks are China, Russia and North Korea, but nevertheless, companies from China are submitted to our pilot program as well. We receive applications from the developed countries. The total number of our potential users is about 700 million. Now we discuss the ways of integrating our product with each company separately. Each company has its own technical landscape.
And what about your company? Where are your offices based, what are you doing now and what do you plan for the nearest future?
We have two offices in Kiev and Odessa. Our team consists of about 25 people, and we are constantly looking for talented specialists. Everything is not that simple, we have attracted investors, and now we have commitments to our token holders. You can say that we’ve created a working space for years. Now we are fully engaged in development. We have already created an alpha version, only ten days after the token sale. Now we work on the consensus algorithm and everything else related to the launch of beta. We’re right on schedule and even better, so we will be able to launch the full operational version in the autumn. After that, we start to work with the large companies.
Will you keep your main headquarters in Ukraine?
We basically don’t want to move, despite everything that happens here. This country is our homeland, and we want to develop our business here. Many developers work here as well. But of course, it is difficult to find an employee with appropriate skills. But if we see that a person is talented we can train him. Recently we’ve even decided to work with universities and teach young developers.
As for the business development, it’s not that easy. I was engaged in a small business in Ukraine for past 12 to 13 years. I understand that it is useless to work with inner market. There is no money inside our country. Unfortunately, our business model involves earning money abroad. Surprisingly, even billionaire companies are interested in our pilot program. We were greatly surprised when the largest companies had come to us. It happened after the publication of the article about us in Forbes. We understand that making money abroad is quite easy even with a hard competition. It's much more simple than here in Ukraine. But the production costs are still much lower here, so we will keep both our target for the western markets and main office here in Ukraine. Of course, we plan to open many sales offices around the world, starting with the USA, London, and South-East Asia.
Let's talk about your competitors. Does someone presented any similar projects?
To be honest, we are cool and calm. We do not have any direct competitors. There are companies solving the same problem but in a different way. We know about Uport, Civiс and others. There are companies dealing with certificates. It's just a PKI (public key infrastructure). They are very old, almost ancient, and their business is simple for understanding. We are aimed at a larger market — the market of access management, which is 10 to 15 billion. And also we target the market of cyber protection, which actually is endless. Just think of 7 trillion dollars of losses last year. So we can actually name large cyber security companies as our competitors, right.
Don’t you think there's a lot of suspicion in the world right now? People see every new ICO project as fraud or a scam.
I would call ordinary venture capital investments a pacifier. The survival rate of startups is one out of ten — 10%. And we can also see about seven out of ten ICO projects scoring big. Crypto projects are more viable than the companies outside the blockchain. The regulation system is weaker, and this fact reduces the risks. People who advocate regulation are absolutely wrong. I could not become a millionaire by simply taking part in the ICO of Ethereum when regulation was strong. I was an investor with $ 400 in my pocket and was not interesting to anyone. Thanks to ICO, I really could earn a lot of money, which I invested in my startup. Yesterday I had a Skype call with one of the largest venture funds, which recently made X100 on one of the most high-profitable deals. They asked me to list interesting Ukrainian startups. I am familiar with many ICO projects. The agents of a venture fund claimed they would be happy to invest in ICO. The opposite opinion spreads among ordinary people, while the large funds continue to invest unofficially. ICO destroys the monopoly on capital. Any person from the street can become an investor. There is a process of democratization, which is a positive trend. We would not have created our own project without ICO.
Is Ukraine so bad about mining, blockchain and cryptocurrencies as it is commonly described?
SBU officials have almost killed mining sphere in Ukraine. This situation began in 2014. Now there are only small miners left. We did not have such problems because our company is just software developer, we’ve become noticeable only a few months ago. Here in Ukraine we don’t have a crypto state policy actually. Some government officials are trying to earn money for themselves, and it’s killing the investment climate. We remember what happened to Anatoly Kaplan (eds. Forklog) and to other significant figures of the crypto community. There is real evidence that an ordinary SBU officer can come and simply put someone else's cryptocurrency into his pocket. It is called stealing. The situation will not change until the Security Service of Ukraine will have a good salary and everyone will start to work correct. I cannot imagine that in any other country someone could just come to my office, take out equipment or money from my own account and walk away.
The last question I decided to borrow from the mysterious investment fund that you have mentioned. Can you name some interesting Ukrainian projects?
There are just three startups that I support: Trigmine, TruePlay and Sixa. The first project uses artificial intelligence in e-mail marketing. TruePlay is a gaming platform on blockchain. Sixa has a very interesting concept. You do not need to have a powerful computer. It allows you to run any program, using processing and all the necessary calculations on the company side. Blockchain adds transparency. It allows to share the extra processing load among the nodes. All three those startups are developed and supported by professional teams.